What do you do when you feel that stress is getting the better of you and when depression seems to be taking over? Going by the popular convention, you probably turn towards ‘self-help books’ that claim to give you a new perspective on things and guarantee to make your life better.
To no astonishment, self-help books are a billion-dollar business in the United States today. Over the last few years, self-help books have sold millions of copies generating billions in revenues. These books often make you believe that your life, which is all out of place, can be made better.
But, recent studies have found that these self-help books do more harm than good. Yes! A study carried out at the University of Minnesota concluded that people who read self-help books were more prone to falling into depression. But, why is it that a book which claims to give you a positive outlook on your life is doing just the opposite? In this article, we decode why reading self-help books is an absolute waste of time and how you can be happier and out of depression even without reading them.
To sum up, the lesson that every self-help book provides, they say that all you need in life is a positive outlook. That is often preceded by statements like you should be following your dreams. But, with some amount of retrospection, it emerges that there is nothing new that these books teach you. We all know that we should follow our passions and have a positive outlook on things. Besides, why do we even need to look at everything positively?
The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that talked about the power of negative thoughts. One read of the article, and you’ll know that it is important to think negatively as well. You see, there is both good and bad in the world out there. And, when you know about the bad, it is only then that you can appreciate the good. Following are a few reasons that advocate why reading self-help books are an absolute waste of time and might even have unpleasant repercussions. Take a look:
#1. Self-Help Books Induce Stress
Yes, you read that right! The books that are designed to pull you out of depression are actually pushing you towards it. The University of Montreal recently did a test on 30 individuals who were tasked with reading different types of self-help books. After they had all completed the books, researchers found out that all the 30 people were more receptive of succumbing to stressful conditions. Apart from that, they also found an increased concentration of Cortisol, which is a stress-inducing hormone in humans!
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Self-help books are designed in a way that they clog the parts of your brain that are responsible for your emotional intelligence. As a result, you tend to admire every word that is written in the book. While your brain is tricked into believing that things will get better if you keep on reading, the real world scenario is totally opposite.
#2. Self-Help Books Want You To Be Someone You’re Not
“Become a person who looks at things in a particular way,” “smile even when you don’t want to,” these are some lines that you’ll find in almost any self-help book. But, ask yourself, do you want to smile in all situations? Do you always feel like looking at everything positively? The likely answers to these questions are most probably a no. That tells us what these books trick us into. They try to play with your psychology, asking you to believe in a world that doesn’t exist. For the utopian setting, these books might have been great tools, but in the realms of reality, these books are a far cry from providing self-help.
Besides, the more you delve into these books, the more you believe in the illusion of reality. You try to mend yourself according to the world that is nothing but a phantasm of an ideal world. The way these books urge to help you is by becoming a different person altogether. And that is when; the true purpose of ‘self-help’ is defeated.
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#3. Self-Help Books Talk In Clichés
Try reading a self-help book when you’re not under stress. And you would be surprised to find a number of generic things written in the book. Most self-help books talk in clichés. There is nothing in it that you have not heard or known previously. We’re sure that whenever you’re in a problem, looking up the sky and seeing how big the world is, makes you feel how small your problem is, doesn't it? Do you now understand how unspecific these books are? How does knowing the vastness of the world ever going to help you pay your bills?
You get the point. Self-Help books don’t offer a new perspective to you. They just mold the same things in ways that they appear different and new to you.
#4. Self-Help Books Teach You To Lie To Yourself
“Keep your head up and take everything in your stride.” Self-Help books want you to pretend as if bad things don’t exist in the world. Rather, they claim that bad things are only a byproduct of your negative thoughts. Do you think that has any truth associated with it? Yes, your thoughts have a lot of impact on you, but your thoughts are not responsible for all the bad that prevails in your life.
Self-help books urge you to lie to yourself. They want you to tell yourself that bad things don’t exist. Besides, they govern that everything has a positive side attached to it. While these things might seem wonderful in the book, there really is no real world application of it. The truth is, the world has a lot of bad, and there is generally never a positive side to bad things. So, stop lying to yourself and drop that self-help book down right away.
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#5. Self-Help Books Are A Diversified Business
Yes, and that’s unfortunate. Self-help books are written with the aim that the readers will need more and more of the author. These authors want you to need them. As a result, they often hold seminars and speech sessions that are pitched with the idea of making you feel a lot better; a little happier than reading the book. Naturally, book readers attend these lectures and shell a lot of money to do so.
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Do you get our point yet? Self-help books have become a thriving billion dollar industry today because it talks of people’s insecurities. And when you talk of people’s insecurities, they will be naturally drawn towards you. No one wants to feel insecure. It is exactly at this point that they become vulnerable and are extremely easy to exploit. Self-help books and their authors are a lot like self-proclaimed Godmen. Both want you to believe in things that have nothing to do with reality.
Our attempt was to make you understand that you can help yourself without ever having to depend on these self-help books. They make you feel worthless and urge you to believe in the mirage of a world that doesn’t exist. Then, there are scientific studies that have concluded that such books induce stress rather than taking it away. Ask yourself: are these self-help books really worth the effort? Let us know in the comments below.
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